Krishen Khanna Archives

Bhupen Khakhar to Krishen Khanna

From Bhupen Khakhar, 4, University Residency Bungalow, University Press Area, Baroda 2

Dated: 11th June 1969

. . . How was your show in London - I heard from Sheikh that you stayed with some Lord. I imagined you in a big castle (Darcy’s castle in Pride & Prejudice or a castle in Jane Eyre or castle depicted in Hardy novel). With hundreds of dogs following your horse in a hunting scene (peculiar English atmosphere). Tell me was it that good? If so I am jealous. . . .

Sincerely,

Bhupen

Dated: 27th July 1969

. . . Recently I have done a painting of ‘Artist’ M.F. Husain after visiting Durga and standing near a tonga. He is clad in black pullover and dark pant. I will be sending that painting to Max Muller Bhavan Exhibition in Calcutta.

. . . I received a card from Geeta. She has sent a portrait of Queen Elizabeth clad in black robe. She has requested me to draw the sky with clouds and zigzag lightening. I had advised her to become a Bhartiya Naari - by working hard, not wasting time and to devote herself completely to house hold affairs like cooking, sewing.

Recently saw Hindi movie Aaya Saawan Jhumke. It is classic in every aspect. I will mention the outstanding few points.

1. Lectures on ‘Khandan’ family.

2. Every character cries at least once in the movie. Though Nirupa Roy tops the score she is always crying and highly sentimental.

3. Throwing hundred rupees notes on the face of rich people, thus stating that poorer need money but not at the state of family khandan.

4. Rushing towards photographs of father and mother for inspiration and fighting against the satanic influence of rich people.

5. Sentimental songs in Darjeeling.

Indian movies are classic. Nothing to beat them.

. . . I read your article about your conversation with young artists of Delhi. I doubt whether it is true that young artists are always after money, selling the paintings and all the time want the galleries to sponsor them. It may be true for few artists. (whether young or old). . .

Dated: 7 August, 1969

Dear Krishen,

I read your letter thrice. That proves that it was very interesting and I can even read it four times :-

I fully agree with you that nothing to beat Maestro regarding his astronaut’s paintings.

I would like to enquire the following:

1. What was the exact time (with the precision of seconds off course) when he got inspired to paint?

2. When the three paintings were finished (again here while giving the time, the precision to be maintained)

3. What were the sequences where we can find the parallel movements? (like when the astronauts were digging moon’s surface their half standing postures, Maestro in the same postures while canvas’s lying on the ground)

4. Did maestro put on the astronaut’s suit while painting?

5. What was the emotional (of course Maestro’s) state when Apollo II and Eagle separated?

In which colour did he dip his brush while Eagle landed on the moon? What internal truths were expressed by him when Armstrong put his feet on moon? What was the Maestro’s B P (Blood Pressure) during this time?

If you can help me to give the above information then it is possible for me to critically appreciate his paintings - in deciding the unworldly paintings - at least above informations are necessary.

Sheikh comments

“That Maestro though tried to paint and exhibit during their time - how so even quick and responsive he may be, is beaten hollow by Amarnath Sehgal - Amarnath has already made a sculpture homage to astronauts and already presented it to American Embassy.”

Now I have further questions:

1. Why Maestro though moving with time could afford to be lazy while Amarnath has already presented the sculpture?

2. Whose precision we should praise?

3. I think Maestro should publicly apologise for being late (Armstrong did apologise when Eagle landed 40 seconds late)

II Wish I were in Simla listening to you, singing Mai kahn, Tum kahn, with your right hand on the chest and with left hand asking the girl, begging & crying to see the lover. I could visualise your face contorted with anguish and emotion - do you prefer Dilip’s hair style or would you rather go for Shammi. Wish to see you doing this - off course when you are emotionally involved.

III (I follow the footsteps of saints) and I think I have done just the thing to paint Maestro’s painting. If I had known earlier I would have included the episode of 21st & 24th July also. If critics want to praise Husain through us we can’t help it. Let us be an instrument for goof cause. About the radio we ultimately purchased the other one UMS - Electro price Rs 575 (inc taxes, license, aerial) though we had to pay separately for connection with tape (its if you need these information). This radio is manufactured in collaboration with grundig. The day is arrived in house I refused everyone to touch it. One should wash one’s hands before touching a new radio. People day quality (voice) of this is better than Maestro Phillips (not our Maestro). Would you believe it? Happily I can’t believe it.

IV I received your hurried note - Mr Mani had received the same and he had asked me. I would certainly like to come to Delhi and join Polytechnique College for a year or two. I would not mind giving a fair trial - even staying in Delhi for a year or two wouldn’t be a bad idea.

V I have done one painting of an English man (with bowler hat, great coat with The Times in hand) standing near banana tree which even resembles palm tree also. He is standing on the right side of the painting. A flower bush. A vacant couch in the background - grey hound standing near the couch and two streamers in the distance. The painting is done in white-creamish white.

VI I am enclosing a short plot of the story which I have written recently. I faced two difficulties:

1. Making it in a short plot.

2. Writing it in in English. You don’t get the punch the way you can get while reading in Hindi or Gujrati.

VII I must finish the letter. I would write to you about the story connecting it with

What is evident and what is real meaning later. Otherwise I will not be able to post this letter today. And I must post it earlier. I am already late by an hour for my office work.

I will write to you about it soon.

With regards

Bhupen

Dated: January 1970

Dear Krishen,

. . . In my catalogue I am printing messages from Leaders. I am going to write to Morarji, Giri, Hitendra to send messages of good wishes and for my success in the show. At the same time I am going to print messages from peons, workers, shop keepers (who wish me good luck) and even from friends. Will you be kind enough to send message for my show. I will print that in my catalogue.

At present I am worried about the paintings - trying hard to paint. Wish Icould do two paintings before the show.

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